Regents OK UCSD Merger With Children’s Hospital
A "key" University of California Board of Regents committee unanimously approved a proposed merger yesterday between Children's Hospital and University of California-San Diego's children's health facilities, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The full board is scheduled to vote on the proposal in Los Angeles today. Even if the deal is approved, there are still some issues to resolve before the "formal alliance" can occur. Regents are seeking assurances of an exit strategy in case the merger does not succeed, and do not want the UC system to pay for seismic upgrade requirements at a facility that is not owned by the university. The California Nurses Association contends the deal would create a monopoly that would "giv[e] consumers less choice." Some regents share that concern, but UCSD officials "assured" them that sufficient choices for children's health care are available and that other facilities can provide care in case of overcrowding. UCSD Chancellor Robert Dynes said, "People will still have the same choices. There will still be UCSD physicians and Children's physicians. What there will be is [a] better brand of specialized care." Children's Hospital President Blair Sadler called the concerns "valid," but said, "I don't hear anything we can't handle over the next few weeks." If the deal is approved, officials plan to complete the merger by the end of the year (Petrillo, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/16).
Under the proposed plan, UCSD medical students would be able to train with patients at Children's Hospital, which admits "most of the region's sick children." In return, Children's would benefit from UCSD's "many federal and private grants" and larger number of physicians. The two facilities would divide their responsibilities: neonatal care, a newborn nursery, the burn unit, ophthalmology programs and pediatric emergency care would be housed at UCSD's Hillcrest facility; cardiology, endocrinology, oncology, infectious diseases, allergy, primary care and general surgery would move to Children's Hospital. The two entities plan to construct a new research facility adjacent to Children's. While joining together would save both organizations money, they "stressed" that the goal of the merger is to create an "overall pediatric center." Dr. Kenneth Lee Jones, chair of UCSD's Department of Pediatrics, is slated to coordinate the merger of the two facilities, helping them become "a world class academic children's health center." He said, "[W]hat is good for individual programs will be even better for the whole" (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.